Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Vacation

These are the things I want to remember about our vacation to Destin with Anna June:
Watching the pure delight on her face as she jumped in the waves.
Losing her for a second under a wave only to realize she was right underneath me.
Seeing her climb and play on the playground at Clement Taylor Park, the park where we got engaged. We sure didn't picture that the last time we were there. She actually loved it, and was playing nicely with a couple of boys who invited her to participate in their game, which I didn't understand.
Playing arcade games at Fat Daddy's Arcade. We got lucky on several ticket-winning games. I won at skee-ball and basketball. She came home with an assortment of toys and jewelry.
Getting frozen custard at Shake's way after bedtime. Totally worth it, since there's no custard stand in Birmingham.
Uncle Dennis' shrimp boil and grilled mahi-mahi.
Date night with rum drinks and free babysitting.
Visiting the library where AJ played on the computer.
Playing with Gucci the dog.
These are things I want to forget: sunburn, traffic, uncoordinated schedules and miscommunication, paying tourist prices, and tracking sand all over Aunt Vicki's house. More later.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Guitar

Anna June got a guitar that is just her size. A similar one (with a fancier design) had been on her wish list and when this one came on sale, her daddy had to buy it right away.

She is so glad he didn't wait. She has learned 2 chords and is having a blast.

Now to convert the office to a music room.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What's New?

Anna June rushed us out the door this morning, saying she had to be at camp on time. She didn't know why, but she said they were told to be on time.

I knew why - it's the Summer Undergrad Research Expo. Hopefully, lots of students will be showing off their posters at the Rec Center, and also hopefully, the campers will not be in the way. Maybe AJ will be inspired to see so many young people working so hard.

While we are rushing from one place to another, not much is new.

AJ is still worried about what teacher she will get. She's looking forward to a play date this weekend. We're gearing up to go to the beach. Work is busy. Volunteer life is non-stop. School supplies have been purchased. I'm waiting until the last minute for uniforms because AJ is growing at a rapid pace. Her shorts from the beginning of the summer have become short shorts!

We went to Rusty's the other day and spotted the new neon sign. That's something new, at least.

What's new with you?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Shoe Shopping


Anna June has all the shoes she needs.

Actually, I took this picture nearly a month ago. The other day, she was walking in to church, and the pair of black shoes she was wearing fell apart. When we got home, she tried on her other black shoes, and they no longer fit.

We went to The Outlet Shops of Grand River on Sunday, and luckily, we found some at The Children's Place outlet. They were on sale. We got her a nightgown, too, so she could stop wearing the long-sleeved Hello Kitty nightgown that she adores but makes her too hot to sleep. (It is currently July in Alabama.)

We got a size 1. As in, 13.5 was the last kid size and now we have moved on to big people's sizes.

I will repeat: she has all the shoes she needs. It will make me too sad if we have to buy any more.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hair and its Care


Anna June has always been subjected to people talking about her hair. It's beautiful in all of its iterations, but lately, the very blond and very curly hair has been getting straighter and darker. It is still wavy, but the ringlets are disappearing.

May we have a moment of silence for the ringlets that once were.

Because we had a bout of head lice in the fall, we are VERY aware of the issues that can bring. AJ heard about a girl who had lice at camp, and even though she's not in AJ's age group and they don't really know each other, I still had a nightmare that I had lice.

AJ's counselor played with her headband yesterday, and AJ did not put it back in her own hair, but came home saying we had to throw it out or find a way to clean it. I wiped it down with alcohol. It looks OK. I told her grownups don't usually get lice, but I still had that dream.

AJ wanted to wash her brush with shampoo. I let her do it. You know what they say about an ounce of prevention. We leave her hair dirty and when we do wash it, we use tea tree oil shampoo in case that really helps.

A counselor at camp is very good at braiding - AJ came home with French-braided pigtails the other night - it was just beautiful, but I forgot to take a picture. Maybe she'll do it again. I sent the brush and two ponytail holders just in case.

After all, braids seem to prevent loose hair that lice seem to love.

AJ's bangs are growing out, but right now she's still in the awkward phase of needing them pulled back. Above are some up-dos that Granny tried when she was here. She can actually braid! AJ thinks she can braid, but she doesn't get everything. I try and fail - maybe her hair just does not want to be tamed.

Today she settled for a plastic headband - easier to clean than the fabric covered ones. Just in case.

Monday, July 21, 2014

On a Roll






Anna June got to go to her friend Maddie's birthday party at Skates 280 on Saturday. She had a great time. We counted 34 laps that she went around the rink. She really was getting the hang of it this time. I am pretty sure it was because a) she had done it before b) I didn't try to help this time. Instead, I just watched quietly from the sidelines. She is really impressive in her determination. One of the party favors was a gift certificate to come back for free admission, and AJ is very excited about using it before it expires next month.

Friday, July 18, 2014

On Impulse

Anna June hasn't seen much of me this week. On Monday night, I had a PTA board meeting. On Tuesday night, we had a reception celebrating the 30th anniversary of UAB's Benevolent Fund. On Wednesday night, I had an Alpha Phi alumnae meeting at our house, and AJ went to Nana and Granddaddy's for a play date with Wesley. I realize I volunteer too much, but it is just my luck that it all happens on the same week.

I saw a card we got in the mail advertising The Music Man, Jr. at the Red Mountain Theater Company. Last year, we got tickets from Ben's work to see a production of Beauty and the Beast, Jr. She had a blast - we took our pal Mallory and it was so much fun. The "Jr." line of musicals is adapted to be family-friendly and the actors are ages 7-14. I thought it may be fun to spend some time with AJ and be entertained by kids (around) her age.

While AJ was still in the tub, I asked her if she'd like to see the play. She asked the name and I told her. She said she'd like to see the movie first.

I don't remember ever telling her that there was a movie called The Music Man. Maybe she's just way more aware of pop culture than I think.

I told her we'd have to watch it some time. She said something along the lines of, "You always say later and that means that we're not going to do it."

I knew she was right. I do tell her "later" a lot. Mostly because we don't get very much time together and the time we do have is already pretty much planned: getting ready in the morning, dropping her off at school or camp, picking her up, eating dinner, taking a bath, going to bed.

I told her to skip washing her chlorine-filled hair and get out of the tub. We were going to watch the movie.

Because we subscribe to both Netflix and Amazon Prime, we searched to see if it was available. It was available only by rental, through Amazon. What the heck? I thought. If I could pay less than $5 to watch it in HD on my TV and not have to go anywhere, spend time with my child watching a movie I really like but haven't seen in years, and also begin to fix a situation where I always say "later" or "tomorrow", I was in.

As soon as I started the film, Ben asked was I sure I wanted to start a 2.5 hour movie well after 7:00? Too bad - we had already started.

So for the next few hours, AJ and I were in River City, Iowa, watching the town transform under the spell of Professor Harold Hill.

Towards the end of the movie, Marian says something will happen tomorrow - I don't even remember what (meeting him at the footbridge, maybe?), and Robert Preston says to Shirley Jones, "My dear little librarian, pile up enough tomorrows and you'll end up with a lot of empty yesterdays. I don't know about you, but I'd like to make today worth remembering."

(Photo source here)
So even though it was just an old movie, I'd like to think that AJ and I did that - we seized the day, because "Tempis fugit!" like the mayor's wife kept saying. We may be sleepy now, but we had fun.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Today's Anxiety

Anna June is desperately worried about who her teacher will be for first grade. Our previous principal allowed us to request specific teachers that would match with our child's style. Last year, we weighed the options and discussed it with her pre-k teacher, but we got who we requested.

This year, there's a new principal and, rather than requesting teachers, she wants to know about the kid. This is probably a more well-rounded approach.

This week, since AJ made The Request and there was a lot of discussion about her and what she's like, it reminded me of this letter. AJ said that I should have put that she is "silly" as to get matched up with the teacher she wants. I didn't. She is stressing about this, especially when we drive close to the school or talk about FIRST GRADE.

This is what I emailed to the principal, a month or so ago (with names shortened to initials):

Dear Mrs. N,

Welcome to Avondale! Thank you for your announcement on the AES website. I would like to give you some input about our child to help you select her teacher for first grade.

Anna June is an extremely bright child. I am sure you will hear that from every parent, but based on feedback from her teachers in Pre-K (Mrs. D) and Kindergarten (Mrs. B), she is at the head of the class. While they don't have achievement tests for such young children, her STRIDE scores were at the top of her group. She is a very fluent reader, and enjoys being asked to read to the class. She was the winner of Avondale's Kindergarten Math Derby. Because she is so advanced, I would like to pair her with a teacher who will provide a lot of academic stimulation, possibly over and above the regular class work. I realize the GATE program does not begin until later grades, but I expect she will be there when the time comes.

AJ is very mature for her age. It was not uncommon for Mrs. B to leave her in charge of "taking names" when she had to step out of the room or to have her assist with various errands. She got a sticker on her daily report indicating excellent behavior every single day of this school year.

We are aware that our child is not perfect. She does not handle changes very well. While her behavior may have been technically good, her emotional responses were not necessarily the best. She had a couple of "meltdowns" that were so bad I had to come pick her up from school. One was because she had a terrible case of stage fright when rehearsing for the talent show, causing her to drop out, and the other was that there was a substitute teacher. Although we never figured out exactly why, AJ developed a kind of phobia of subs. I even spoke to the counselor about it. It got better as time went on, but for a while, every time Mrs. B had to be out (even for the monthly WIN meeting), AJ was in tears. I think AJ has a tender heart, and I would like to see her with a teacher who will be understanding of that - not to baby her, but to keep things upbeat and consistent when possible.

Anna June is an only child. At school, she seems to get along very well with other kids and has many friends. At home, she is mostly happy. She loves to work independently on art projects, and enjoys reading and playing games. My husband and I like Avondale's motto "Expect the best!" and try to parent that way.

In case it figures in to the equation at all, AJ attends Avondale's After School Care program, and Mrs. M worked with that group last year. AJ adores Mrs. M! However, a full day of the same teacher may be too much. I just wanted to mention that in case it influences your decision either way.

Thank you so much for your consideration! We are looking forward to working with you for a great year at Avondale in First Grade!
Laura Gallitz

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Moo

Anna June had a great time while Granny was in town. Because we had access to her creativity, and because AJ was not stuck in camp all week, we encouraged AJ to participate in Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A. Those who came dressed as cows got free food. We had never dressed up before, but this year, it seemed like a good idea.

AJ thought so, too.

Granny worked hard on AJ's costume. AJ already had the cow ears/horns headband from a random trip to Bargain Hunt. Maybe we were thinking ahead - this does come around every year.

AJ was by far the best dressed cow at the Eastwood location. More people came dressed up than you would think. Folks love free. I even have a friend who took her kids there for lunch AND dinner.

Granny made sure of every detail: a swishy tail from pipe cleaners, a nose from a cup, hooves from long black socks, and even pink felt udders. I guess asking a Wisconsin native to create a cow costume was a good idea.

As soon as AJ got out of the car, she was starting to get freaked out by all the attention. She was in tears before we ordered our food. She claimed to be hot, even though her costume was a T-shirt and shorts. I was at work and met them there, so I give Ben all the credit for bringing along a change of clothes for her, in case our shy girl imploded with all the attention. I think she was tired from spending the week playing with Granny, and she may have had a smidge of an elevated temperature. I blame the six-year-molar that is trying to finally erupt.

At least she waited to change until after we got credit for the free food. It was all I could ask.

Sounds kind of smart to me!

CFA cow photo courtesy Chick-fil-A at Eastwood Village's Facebook page.


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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Request

In the car this morning, Anna June and I were having an interesting conversation.

It started with her asking, "How will I know when my teacher's birthday is?"

I told her that was a good question. Perhaps I could ask that all the teachers' birthdays be added to the school calendar. Or maybe I could ask the room parent (if I am not that person) to get that info to the parents of our class. Or maybe, if her teacher is on Facebook, I could just look it up, as many people share their birthdays. I may be able to see it, because I am friends with AJ's two former teachers (and teacher's assistant) that may be mutual friends.

That brought AJ's mind to Facebook, the main waster of time in my life, but also the source of much joy, entertainment, and enlightenment. There, I learn about and participate in my community, as well as get to see adorable baby and pet photos.

AJ asked that I stop posting about her on Facebook.

Ouch.

Granted, she doesn't hear about the job opportunities I repost, the interesting articles I find, or the hilarious stuff I tell 400 of my closest friends regularly. But she does hear, "I saw your cow costume on Facebook!" or "I heard about your medal on Facebook."

So I can see why she gets embarrassed.

Even though nine times out of ten (or even more than that) I am only posting because she is an awesome kid. Smart, funny, beautiful, mature, interesting, inquisitive, etc.

I mean, I didn't even post the best thing she's said recently, which is, "I hope the Brewers go to the Super Bowl."

Because that would have been embarrassing.

In fact, someone posted a picture of a kid holding up a sign over his face, that said, "Don't post my messes - only successes." I have been trying to take this to heart - I even showed it to Ben, who rightly avoids Facebook like the plague that it is.

But sometimes some of the things Anna June does or says are just so darn cute! She's only six - she's not a "little" girl any longer. She can give directions, take lessons, read stories, make sandwiches, and clean a toilet. I am not going to get very many more adorable moments. She will be a tween before I know it. I feel like I have to take all the adorable moments and announce them to the world because soon enough there will be boys and serious causes and eye rolling at my old-fogey ways.

The eye-rolling may or may not have already begun.

I have failed majorly at keeping AJ on the blog and myself on Facebook. I am more than just AJ's press agent, and more than just her mother. I was around for 30 years before she got here, and many of my FB friends knew me then. It's time I go back to posting stuff about me that's worth sharing, and not just her stuff.

I will try to rectify this, and to honor her wishes.

I've asked everyone to hold me to it. If they are actually my friends, they will.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

It's Nice to Have You

Anna June is waiting for Granny to arrive today! We can't wait to have her here.

I took this picture of AJ eating an Italian Ice at the Woodlawn street fair on June 21. It was a quick treat on the way (a long way) to the library. She got "rainbow" flavor. It was so good on a very hot day.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Bike Debacle

Anna June was making progress learning how to ride her bike. We liked the Balance Buddy for a little bit. But we still had problems. The main problem - Ben can't run behind her to hold her up as she learns to ride faster, but she can't balance on her own.

So we decided to go back to training wheels.

There's evidently a bias in the children's bike world. Kids on 20" bikes are supposed to be able to ride already. When we bought the bike, we didn't think it would be so hard.

So when I was at Target, I found these, allegedly for 16"-20" bikes.

The trouble is that the axle on AJ's bike was not long enough to support this particular type of training wheel. Ben tried and tried, but just could not make them go on.

Installing them was quite another issue. When he was attaching them, a washer flew off into the grass. We searched and searched and searched but could not find it. Later, when we had given up and AJ was not even home, we found it. We tried again to attach the stupid things, but they wouldn't work.

I had heard of a bike co-op nearby that may be able to help. They fix bikes of all types, and keep parts around, so we went over one night after dinner to see if they would happen to have some 20" training wheels that would work. They did not. In appreciation for their work and in the spirit of community that a co-op brings, and knowing that we would have no further use for them, I just donated the training wheels.

We went home and Ben was searching on Amazon, only to find that they actually sell axle extenders that would have made the dang wheels work. But it was too late.

So, now, I have called three places. The bike shop close to us does not have any in stock (just sold the last ones)!  The bike shop not too far has them. But then there's this other non-profit that gives bikes to kids. They have some on an old bike out back that they can transfer to AJ's bike. Here's keeping our fingers crossed that they can do some magic and the kid can learn how to ride!

Then we'll have to work on getting a bike rack to put it on. Transporting it inside the Scion is difficult at best. We've already managed to lose the tassels off one handlebar doing this. Also, there are spiders in our shed, despite our best efforts to keep them at bay. The last time we took the bike anywhere, AJ started screaming like she was on fire. We discovered that she saw a spider on her bike. Luckily, Ben had been through this before and did not have a wreck.

One crisis at a time, please.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Summer Recap: Week 2

Because of my scheduling debacle, Anna June ended up with a shortage of camp weeks this year. So I turned to friends who overwhelmingly suggested the Wacky Nanny Art Camp held at Community Education South, located in the former Comer Elementary School. This place is around the corner from my parents, and back in the day was our afternoon bus stop home.

I didn't know how much AJ would like it, but I knew it would be convenient.

Actually, AJ was quite apprehensive about going to art camp. Looking logically, it is hard to understand, because that kid loves arts and crafts. But she also hates change. So I was bracing for the worst.

Luckily, there was no need.

The camps alternate weeks of "big" kids and "little" kids. Fortunately, AJ was with the big kids. I think this alone helped tremendously - she is so mature and seems to do better with the older children. They had some "free" art time at the beginning of the day. They could make whatever they wanted. AJ loved this - this is her favorite thing about arts and crafts. I have tons of ideas from Pinterest, and she has several art kits, but she loves more than anything to just be handed free reign over what she gets to do.

Furthermore, her teacher showed her the basics of sewing (hand-stitching). She was in absolute heaven. She has wanted to learn to sew and knit for a long time, but I am just now realizing she may actually be ready as far as her hand-eye coordination goes. Also, I cannot teach her these things - she will have to have lessons from someone else. With this introductory week, AJ made two pillows for her dolls.

Other activities of the week included paper-mache, tie-dying t-shirts, making their own pizzas, and "water day," which involved an inflatable slide and kiddie pool.

There were enough other kids to make it interesting, but not so many that AJ couldn't get the attention she needed.

The week closed with an "art show" where the parents could come see all the works the kids had made during the camp.

This camp was only a half day, so my Mom got to pick her up and keep her in the afternoons.

Here are some of the things she brought home:
She already wants to go back next year.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summer Recap: Week 1

As I mentioned before, Anna June is one busy girl this summer. The first week of summer, she attended Vacation Bible School at Avondale United Methodist Church. Although this is not "our" church, lots of children from Avondale Elementary attend there regularly, and we like to go to special events there sometimes.

Other kids do, too, and that's why they had over 100 children in their VBS this year. That is huge.

The theme this year was Wilderness Escape. AJ learned a lot about Moses and the Israelites. She had fun eating "manna" (crackers) and "quail" (chick-shaped Peeps).

She learned songs, made crafts, and had fun with her friends. She liked being squirted with water guns as the kids played a game about parting the Red Sea.

The best part of the week was that it has sparked an interest in reading Bible stories, which is something we would like to encourage.

Here are some of the crafts she made and brought home from the week:

I hope everyone is having an "Awsum" time this week.